Monday, April 25, 2011

VIDEO: Town Hall -- Keep your hands off my Medicare!

The last couple of weeks, members of the congress across the U.S. returned home to their districts.  Upon arrival, many of the republicans that voted on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget had to do some explaining.  In town halls across the country, concerned citizens voiced their opinions’ to save Medicare.  Let’s take a look at how Ryan’s constituents responded:

One of Ryan’s constituents said, “We have to lower spending, but…there’s nothing wrong with taxing the top, because it does not trickle-down.”  Ryan then responded with, “We do tax the top.”  If you watched the video, I am sure you heard the loud booing that ensued.  He continued by saying, “Let’s remember most of our jobs come from…businesses…you got to remember that these businesses pay taxes as individuals…so when you raise their tax rates…I would just fundamentally disagree.  [This] is going to hurt job creation.”
This is the same old rhetoric that conservatives continue to spill.  I think any sensible person who has been alive (or can read a history book) these past 25 years can tell you that trickle-down has never worked.  It didn’t work with Regan; it didn’t work with Bush 1; it didn’t work with Bush 2.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) believes that this is not a budget plan but a plan to eliminate services that republicans have wanted gone for years.  These cuts include Medicare, education, Medicaid, etc.  He explains that this is nothing other than agenda-setting.  He rightfully asks how Ryan's plan is a deficit reduction plan when we are cutting $4.2T for the rich and corporations. 
Nadler went on to explain that the president is making a big mistake by obliging republicans with this deficit issue.  The real issue is job creation.  When the New York Times held a poll asking American’s what the most important issue affecting our country is, coming in first place was jobs.  The deficit ranked third.  Why are liberals and conservatives alike ignoring this problem?
Nadler called the debt ceiling issue a “silly debate,” stating that we can’t just “stop the world” and even at the cost of a bigger deficit, spending for a year or two more would create jobs, and unemployment would take care of 2/3 of the deficit.  It is a known fact that cutting spending hurts job creation.
Ok, so you think we must cut spending.  I agree.  Cutting spending would be the responsible thing to do…if done responsibly.  But why not include other alternatives?  Alternatives like…oh…maybe creating heavier tax brackets as incomes increase.  The top 2% of incomes are rapidly increasing, so why not change the tax brackets to reflect this?  Their increased income is a direct result of the American people’s hard work, so why must we consistently punish the worker?
Rep. Nadler stated that “the republican budget…would have non-defense discretionary spending…go down from 12% to 6.2% where it hasn’t been since the Coolidge Administration.”  How are we supposed to pay for education, housing grants, infrastructer, etc? 
Republicans want to tell you that they are saving Medicare.  Recently, you may have seen the conservative alternative the AARP on commercials promoting this.  This is a bogus organization conservatives paid over $800K to create called the “60 Plus Association.”  In the commercial, they tell us that Ryan is trying to “protect and preserve” Medicare, but this isn’t the case.  They are, in fact, trying to eliminate the program altogether. 
Conservatives want to replace Medicare with an untested program that would not provide the care that Medicare provides.  The Ryan plan would replace the care received by seniors with a voucher that offers no guarantee of care.  Bill Maher asks, “What happens to a person…who uses the $50k…which, by the way, if they are in an assisted living facility, they will go through it in three months…what happens to them?”  

How do conservatives generally respond to this popular question among liberals?  Well, Michael Steele, the former Republican National Committee chairman, responded with, “We don’t know yet.” 

Glad we cleared that up.
Lawrence O’Donnell recently said that he knows what happens to people who need care under Medicare…”They get Medicare.  That is the guarantee of the Medicare program.”  Medicare delivers care more efficiently than any other health insurance program in the country.
The people want their Medicare.  Just look at the polls.  Polls around the country have an average of over 80% of people wanting to retain the program.  They do not want vouchers.  They do not want a shrinking benefit for a rising cost…and Ryan’s plan does nothing to address the rising costs of health care.
Town halls all over the country are trying to convey this to conservative politicians.  They do not want Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity.”  They don’t want tax cuts for the wealthiest, which would put us at levels not seen since the 1930s.  They do not want to see corporate taxes cut, and they certainly do not want to see billions more in tax breaks for the oil companies. 
What are these people saying about...
Patrick Meehan (R-PA)

Sean Duffey (R-WI)

Lou Barletta (R-PA)

According to the Daily Herold, Rep. Robert Dold’s (R-IL) hometown paper, Dold’s constituents expressed the  following:

 “…they don’t believe chopping ten percent off the highest corporate tax rate will create jobs.  A handful of people in the audience identified themselves as business owners and accountants who said their effective corporate tax rate is already lower than the lowest rates proposed in the Ryan plan.  They pointed to companies such as GE that pay almost no taxes despite billions in profits as evidence.”
When Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH) held his town hall, Time reported that nearly every question, including the first six or seven, was directed towards his vote on the Ryan plan.  These politicians, liberal and conservative alike, need to stop abusing their trustee role.  It is time they start acting like delegates of their constituents. 
Matt Miller of the Washington Post reports that the Ryan plan would raise the national debt, yet they still want to fight over raising the debt limit.  He states, “The house republican budget adds $6T to the debt over the next decade yet the GOP is balking at raising the debt limit!”  How could this plan even be enacted without raising the debt limit…even if we ignore that not raising it would cause world turmoil?
So what are the alternatives?
The Progressive Caucus recently released their budget proposal.  The following is a summary of the Progressive Caucus Budget:
Congressional Progressive Caucus
-Balances budget twenty years earlier than Ryan
-Allows Bush Era tax cuts to expire
-Reduces baseline defense spending
-Eliminates corporate welfare for oil companies
-Enacts public options for health care
-Proposes to increase tax rates of the wealthiest American’s
Well this certainly seems a lot better than cutting taxes for the rich and killing Medicare.  What you see here is the most fiscally responsible budget plan so far.  So why aren’t we talking about this plan and instead concentrating on Ryan’s and Obama’s plan, which both increase the debt over the next ten years?  Rachel Maddow believes it is because the Beltway Press doesn’t cover the progressive agenda.
When comparing all of the budget plans, it seems, without a doubt, that the Progressive Caucus’ budget is the one we should be focusing on. 

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